Provocative and journalism driven account of a nation that, under the threat of perpetual war, was able to make a multi-racial, -ethnic, and -cultural country emerge from the desert and become a technology startup powerhouse. Gives patterns of development that will help investors understand the ecosystems that successful startups come from. Particularly useful for juxtaposing to East Asia, specifically Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.

My Notes By Chapter

  • 1: Fraud Sciences and eBay, meeting requested by Benchmark Capital (Andy Rachleff, Marc Andreesseen and the Only Thing That Matters.) Shvat Shaked.
  • "Our idea is simple. We believe that the world is divided between good people and bad people. And the trick to beating fraud is to distinguish between them on the web—Good people leave traces of themselves on the Internet, digital footprints, because they have nothing to hide. Bad people don't because they try to hide themselves. All we do is look for footprints. If you can find them, you can minimize risk to an acceptable level and underwrite it. It really is that simple."
  • eBay/PayPal had to acquire the company immediately.
  • Flat organization, this was Fraud Sciences culture. Israeli chutzpah: Yiddish, german-slavic language, gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible guts, presumption plus arrogance.
  • Nickname barometer: you can tell a lot about a society based on how its members refer to its elites. Israel is the only place in the world where everybody in a position of power, including prime ministers and army generals, has a nickname used by all, including the masses.
  • Value Neutral: All performance is value neutral. So long as the risk was taken intelligently, there is something to be learned. It is critical to distinguish between a well-planned experiment and a roulette wheel. "We don't cheerlead you for a good performance, and we don't terminate you for a bad performance."
  • Harvard University 2006: "Entrepreneurs who have failed in their enterprise previously have a 1 in 5 chance of success in their next startup, which is a higher success rate than for first time entrepreneurs and not that far below of entrepreneurs who have had a previous success." Also references Geography of Bliss.
  • Intel i386: Power, clock speed, and chips. Intel's Israeli team was the first team to see the "power wall" coming. Chips for mobility. Friedman and Israeli team made an equivalent of a gear system by splitting instructions fed into chips. (Functional programming?) Israeli team aggressively went after every executive to push the new gear system. Chip Banias, Centrino chip was released. More here. Dual core processors also came from Intel Israel. Mid level developers were willing to challenge their superiors. Israeli corporate culture vs. American corporate culture.
  • Chapter 3: Go Far, Stay Long, See Deep
  • Chapter 4: Talpiot, broad and deep training for innovative problem solving. Teach people how to be very good at a lot of things, rather than excellent at one thing. Israeli innovators are often graduating college in mid 20's, large are married, military experience, much more life experience.
  • Chapter 5: A historical trio of characteristics that the startup world values premium: initiative, risk taking, and agility. (Singapore vs. Israel) Lee Kuan Yew wants more startups too. Korea also failed to produce startup culture. China and Korea are in interactive age, while America is queen of content but still broadcast age.
  • Korea, like most Asians, are scared of losing face, and also traumatized by dot com burst.
  • Debrief as important as the work. Unrestrained candor, self-criticism, 90 minutes with everybody. Personal and exhausting.
  • Explaining away a bad decision is unacceptable. Explaining away something is not useful either. Mistakes are acceptable, but only if they're harvested for learning.
  • Israeli army is more accountable to the public as things are unclassified after war, unlike American army.
  • Israelis established a commission in the mid of a war, that's how important it is.
  • Paul Yingling blistering attack on US Army generalships for not having public accountability.
A failure in generalship
For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to the…
As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war. By exercising its powers to confirm the retired ranks of general officers, Congress can restore accountability among senior military leaders. (Link loads slowly, I know. Here's another link just in case.)
  • Regarding the 2nd Lebanon war, and Aidlin: Israel suffered from a lack organization and a lack of improvisation.
  • Complexity Science: The Edge of Chaos. Rigid order and random chaos meet. Stable institutions and rule of law in advanced democracy. Non-hierarchal culture, overlapping networks, small communities, common army service, geographic proximity, and informality.
  • Chapter 6: Yatir Forest and fish in salt water. Fluxnet.
  • Entrepreneurs do better at non-obvious complex innovation, top-down does better at obvious infrastructural.
  • About Israel's tech savvy: "Blackberries never lose reception."
  • Chapter 7: Reut Institute, how Israel can be top 15 wealthiest nations by 2020. A nation of immigrant is a nation of entrepreneurs.
  • "Up until the 1920s immigration was basically unrestricted but don't forget Asians", this author is wrong, here's the source.
  • Chapter 10: Yozmah, government funding VC funds, allowing partners to cheaply buy out government stake with interest if it succeeded. Ireland copying Israel, Dec 2008, 500 Euro innovation fund for. Irish state has copied the Jewish state, wrote David McWilliams.
  • Mindset vs. policy: Benjamin BB Netanyahu, privatized a lot of industries, financial sector reforms, allowing financiers to take management fees.
  • Conclusion: "After me!", one must complete mission, but only with team. There is no leaving anyone behind. Minimal guidance from the top, but maximum responsibility.
  • Survival through success: Intel Israel, goal was success but motivation was survival. Keep the attitude of a precarious startup.
  • How to become an idea factory: meta ideas of the future, team company country world.

Bonus Resources

Charles De Gaulle accidentally made Israelis develop their own home grown weapons industry.

Start-up Nation - Wikipedia
Gal Beckerman, writing in The Forward magazine, observes that the book "presents Israel in an extremely positive light as a bastion of entrepreneurial spirit and technological achievement. It skirts a discussion of the conflict with the Palestinians, or even the wealth inequality within Israel, thereby dovetailing nicely with recent public relations efforts by Israel to shift attention away from its problems and toward its achievements."[21]
Notes on Start-Up Nation
One of the most enjoyable books I’ve recently completed is Start-Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. The book’s subject is the entrepreneurial culture in Israel, the country with the greatest...
Good chapter-by-chapter notes.
Start-Up Nation Summary, Review PDF
Great summary by major themes, and also recommended next book: "Startup Rising"